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April 27, 2011
Gailís guests

Gailís step-father Gordon, mother, Aunt Aggie and Uncle Butch with Gail in Sutter Creek in historic Gold Country

It has been more than a month since either Gail or Russell has been able to travel up to our mountain home property. Our friend Steve continues to visit more often than we do, happily cutting and burning the brush around the 50 acres.

We do have a good excuse. For the past several months, Gail has been navigating our son Joss through his final year of high school. Joss turned 18 on March 31 and requested a big party (unusual for Joss). In addition, we have been enduring the dreaded college selection process. The good news is that Ė after a year of interest in the University of the Pacific and an aborted college-visit trip to Southern California Ė Joss finally made his decision last week: San Jose State University, just down the road.

Nevertheless, our mountain home construction has been neglected through this process. We feel like the stereotypical people who live in California surrounded by wonderful things, but who never bother to go out to actually see any of them. It usually takes an out-of-town visitor to get such people out of the house. Fortunately, thatís exactly what we got.

Gailís Uncle Butch and Aunt Aggie came out to visit from her home state of Michigan. One of the sights they specifically wanted to see was our mountain property. They decided that Tuesday through Wednesday, April 26-27, would be a good time. Gailís mother and step-father Gordon would also go along for the trip. Unfortunately, Russell had to work and would not be joining them.

Gailís mom had not been up to the property since before the permanent stairs were installed. Not trusting the old rickety ladder stairs at her age, she never went upstairs. As a result, all of her visits had to be day trips, so she seldom came up.

This time was different. After a very nice drive in beautiful weather, the two vehicles arrived at the top of the mountain. Mom and Gordon were impressed by how much progress we had made on the house. Butch and Aggie were impressed by everything about the property.

The plan was to relax and enjoy the scenery, but things did not quite go that way. Gail happened to mention that we were in the process of swapping out bunk bed sets. The next thing she knew, Butch had taken a bunch of tools and started working. He dismantled the old bunk beds and assembled the new ones. He even took a hacksaw and cut metal pegs to reinforce the stacked beds.

Butch relaxes on the bunk beds that he just put together

Never one to let free labor go to waste, Gail took advantage of the situation. She applied Butchís volunteer energy to sanding the exterior support posts next to the deck. (Russell had told Gail that this would be a necessary step before installing the deck cable railings.) Butch even made a template so it would be easier for Russell to drill into the support posts later. Gail declared that if Butch lived closer, we would have been done constructing the house by now.

Butch uses an electric sander on the exterior support posts

At least the rest of the visitors took the time to relax and enjoy the scenery. In fact, Aggie declared that one of the highlights of her entire California trip was sleeping in Cameronís room, looking out the window at night and seeing a sky full of stars between the tree branches.

It was with reluctance that the party left the mountaintop on Wednesday afternoon. But Butch and Aggie both agreed that the next time they come back to California, another trip to our mountain home will be a definite stop on their itinerary. With any luck, they will get to see a completed house!

Mom, Aggie and Gordon stroll around on the property


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